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Saint John of Capistrano

Saint John Capistrano, Stained glass window in the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC
Image: Saint John Capistrano | Stained glass window in the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC. | photo by Lawrence OP

Saint of the Day for October 23

(June 24, 1386 – October 23, 1456)
Audio file

Saint John of Capistrano’s Story

It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events.

Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times.

John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later.

John’s preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion.

The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the “Spirituals” were freed from interference in their stricter observance.

John of Capistrano helped bring about a brief reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches.

When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, John was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died on October 23, 1456.


Reflection

John Hofer, a biographer of John Capistrano, recalls a Brussels organization named after the saint. Seeking to solve life problems in a fully Christian spirit, its motto was: “Initiative, Organization, Activity.” These three words characterized John’s life. He was not one to sit around. His deep Christian optimism drove him to battle problems at all levels with the confidence engendered by a deep faith in Christ.


Saint John of Capistrano is Patron Saint of:

Judges


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Saint Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão

Statue of Saint Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão, Cathedral of Saint Anthony, Guaratinguetá
Image: Statue of Saint Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão | Cathedral of Saint Anthony, Guaratinguetá | photo by Zééh.mané

Saint of the Day for October 25

(1739 – December 23, 1822)
Audio file

Saint Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão’s Story

God’s plan in a person’s life often takes unexpected turns which become life-giving through cooperation with God’s grace.

Born in Guarantingueta near São Paulo, Antônio attended the Jesuit seminary in Belem, but later decided to become a Franciscan friar. Invested in 1760, he made final profession the following year and was ordained in 1762.

In São Paulo, he served as preacher, confessor, and porter. Within a few years, Antônio was appointed confessor to the Recollects of Saint Teresa, a group of nuns in that city. He and Sister Helena Maria of the Holy Spirit founded a new community of sisters under the patronage of Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence. Sister Helena Maria’s premature death the next year left Father Antônio responsible for the new congregation, especially for building a convent and church adequate for their growing numbers.

He served as novice master for the friars in Macacu and as guardian of St. Francis Friary in São Paulo. He founded St. Clare Friary in Sorocaba. With the permission of his provincial and the bishop, Antônio spent his last days at the Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Luz, the convent of the sisters’ congregation he had helped establish.

Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão was beatified in Rome on October 25, 1998, and canonized in 2007.


Reflection

Holy women and men cannot help calling our attention to God, to God’s creation, and to all the people whom God loves. The lives of holy people are so oriented toward God that this has become their definition of “normal.” Do people see my life or yours as a living sign of God’s steadfast love? What might have to change for that to happen?


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Saint Peter of Alcantara

Painting of Saint Peter of Alcántara
Image: Saint Peter of Alcántara | Luis Tristán

Saint of the Day for October 26

(1499 – October 18, 1562)
Audio file

Saint Peter of Alcantara’s Story

Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to Saint Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended.

Born into a noble family—his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain—Peter studied law at Salamanca University, and at 16 he joined the so-called Observant Franciscans, also known as the discalced friars. While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest, was elected provincial at the age of 39, and he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.

Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: “To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara.”

In 1554, Peter received permission to form a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.

As spiritual director to Saint Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars, and the Poor Clares.

Peter of Alcantara was canonized in 1669. His Liturgical Feast Day is September 22.


Reflection

Poverty was a means and not an end for Peter. The goal was following Christ in ever greater purity of heart. Whatever obstructed that path could be eliminated with no real loss. The philosophy of our consumer age—you are worth what you own—may find Peter of Alcantara’s approach severe. Ultimately, his approach is life-giving while consumerism is deadly.


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Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza

Statue of Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza, Monastery of Saint Bartholomew-Saint Anthony, Vicenza, Italy
Image: Statue of Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza | Monastery of Saint Bartholomew-Saint Anthony, Vicenza, Italy | photo by Claudio Gioseffi

Saint of the Day for October 27

(c. 1200 – 1271)
Audio file

Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza’s Story

Dominicans honor one of their own today, Blessed Bartholomew of Vicenza. This was a man who used his skills as a preacher to challenge the heresies of his day.

Bartholomew was born in Vicenza around 1200. At 20, he entered the Dominicans. Following his ordination, he served in various leadership positions. As a young priest, he founded a military order whose purpose was to keep civil peace in towns throughout Italy.

In 1248, Bartholomew was appointed a bishop. For most men, such an appointment is an honor and a tribute to their holiness and their demonstrated leadership skills. But for Bartholomew, it was a form of exile that had been urged by an antipapal group that was only too happy to see him leave for Cyprus. Not many years later, however, Bartholomew was transferred back to Vicenza. Despite the antipapal feelings that were still evident, he worked diligently—especially through his preaching—to rebuild his diocese and strengthen the people’s loyalty to Rome.

During his years as bishop in Cyprus, Bartholomew befriended King Louis IX of France, who is said to have given the holy bishop a relic of Christ’s Crown of Thorns.

Bartholomew died in 1271. He was beatified in 1793.


Reflection

Despite oppositions and obstacles, Bartholomew remained faithful to his ministry to God’s People. We face daily challenges to our faithfulness and duties as well. Perhaps Bartholomew could serve as an inspiration in our darker moments.


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Saint Anthony Mary Claret

Painting of Saint Anthony Mary Claret
Image: Saint Anthony Mary Claret | Saints in Rome and Beyond

Saint of the Day for October 24

(December 23, 1807 – October 24, 1870)
Audio file

Saint Anthony Mary Claret’s Story

The “spiritual father of Cuba” was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop, and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris, and to the First Vatican Council.

In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, Anthony learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers.

Anthony spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was said that his rosary was never out of his hand. At age 42, he founded a religious institute of missionaries beginning with five young priests, known today as the Claretians.

Anthony was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin—whose release from prison Anthony had obtained—slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: Reflections on Agriculture and Country Delights.

He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. Anthony went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace; he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children; and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled to Paris with the queen’s party, where he preached to the Spanish colony.

All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets.

At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, Anthony won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, “There goes a true saint.” At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.


Reflection

Jesus foretold that those who are truly his representatives would suffer the same persecution as he did. Besides 14 attempts on his life, Anthony had to undergo such a barrage of the ugliest slander that the very name Claret became a byword for humiliation and misfortune. The powers of evil do not easily give up their prey. No one needs to go looking for persecution. All we need to do is be sure we suffer because of our genuine faith in Christ, not for our own whims and lack of prudence.


Saint Anthony Mary Claret is Patron Saint of:

Weavers


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Daily Readings for Friday, October 23, 2020

Reading 1: Ephesians 4:1-6, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 24:1-6, Gospel: Luke 12:54-59

Bishops call for caution and tell Catholics to await clarity from the Vatican on Pope Francis' civil union remarks

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Celebrate Sunday Mass With Bishop Strickland - 10.25.20

The videos for Sunday Mass will be available on Sunday morning.

Daily Readings for Thursday, October 22, 2020

Reading 1: Ephesians 3:14-21, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:11-12, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:1-2, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:18-19, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:4-5, Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

Prayer to St. John Paul II: Prayer of the Day for Thursday, October 22, 2020

Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus. Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth. May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of SatanÂ?s assault against this ...